Strategic Depth - Beginner
Setup Time - 5 mins.
Play Time - 30 to 45 mins.
Players - 2 to 4
Mechanics - Card Drafting, Set Collection
Production Info - 2014 | Space Cowboys | Marc Andre
Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Take on the role of a Renaissance merchant striving to become rich in Splendor, a fast, elegant, and intuitive game for two to four players. You begin by collecting raw gems, then use those to fund the development of mines throughout the world. Once you've mined more gemstones, you will need the means to transport them, artisans to shape them, and finally a storefront where you can sell your polished jewels. If you produce exactly the right jewelry, a powerful noble may become your patron. The player whose jewelry business earns the most prestige wins!
- The Good -
One of the best attributes of Splendor is how easy it is to teach and to learn. I have introduced this game more than any other game to "non-gamers" because it's easy to grasp. The mechanics are very simple to learn but also appease people who love strategy board games.
Game Pieces/Box Storage
The first comment I get from guys who play the game for the first time is that the Gems feel just like poker chips. In fact, they are the same weight as poker chips and I find this has made a huge difference in getting poker players to enjoy the game even more. Also, the components fit tightly into the box with the Gems, Cards, and Nobles all having their own compartments. I have taken this game all over the place and this is very helpful since game pieces are not thrown around everywhere.
I have played Splendor close to 50 times because I play multiply times each time I play. Also, I have introduced this game more than any other game because of the versatility of players that it attracts. The game has very high replay value because the cards and nobles change every time you play which results in different strategies each time.
- The Bad -
I have always wished that the game could just last longer with having more victory points to win or some other dimension. It's great that the game only takes around 30 minutes but players get very frustrated at the end if they don't win because they had been building their card empire. The set collection component of the game is excellent but the end of game is triggered by 15 victory points, which does not take very long. Most people I have played with have that desire for the game to keep the same mechanics but last longer, and that has always been my biggest complaint.
I have played more games of Splendor than I can count and most of them are played in silence. Once players know how to play they want to focus on their strategy so badly that the game can turn anti-social with pure concentration. This isn't always bad as some players like to have that complete focus but it's not the best game for casual conversation.
- Overall -
Splendor is an excellent gateway game because it teaches some of the core mechanics of modern board gaming and is relatively easy to teach. Splendor is an excellent family game that speaks to all ages. I have had as young as 7 and as old as 68 play and love the game. Collecting the gems to buy cards which allow you to acquire higher value cards and gain victory points is the goal of Splendor. The building and collecting component of the game is a major factor of why it appeals to all ages. Also, the strategic element of the game is not necessarily light but it is easy to start playing. I would like to play the expansion since I have played the original so many times. Splendor has been the biggest hit in my family and friend circles with numerous people buying the game.
The following summaries are meant to be a high-level reminder of how to play this game. If this is your first time playing, we highly recommend that you read your board game's included rule book which will go into much more depth. You can download a digital PDF copy of the official rules by clicking the button below. There are also a few video tutorials near the bottom of this section to help all you visual learners out as well.
- Setup Overview -
- Shuffle each development card deck separately, and then place them in a column in the middle of the table in increasing order from bottom to top
- Reveal 4 cards from each level.
- Shuffle the Noble Tiles and reveal as many of them as there are players plus one (example: 5 tiles for a 4 player game).
- The remaining tiles are removed from the game; they will not be used during the game.
- Finally, place the tokens in 6 distinct piles (sort them by color) within reach of the players.
- For 2 players, remove 3 tokens of each gem color and 3 players remove 2 tokens of each gem color. The gold or joker tokens never get removed.
- Players do not start with any gems or cards in their hand.
- Game Play/Player Turns -
The youngest player begins. Play then proceeds clockwise. On their turn, a player must choose to perform only one of the following actions:
- Take 3 gem tokens of different colors.
- Take 2 gem tokens of the same color. This action is only possible if there are at least 4 tokens of the chosen color left when the player takes them.
- Reserve 1 development card and take 1 gold token (joker).
- Purchase 1 face-up development card from the middle of the table or a previously reserved one.
A player can never have more than 10 tokens at the end of their turn (including jokers). If this happens, they must return tokens until they only have 10 left. A player can return all or some of those they’ve just drawn. The tokens owned by a player must be visible by all players at all times.
- End Of Game -
When a player reaches 15 prestige points, complete the current round so that each player has played the same number of turns.
- Winning -
The winner is the person who has the highest number of prestige points (don’t forget to count your nobles).
- Tie Breakers -
In case of a tie, the player who has purchased the fewest development cards wins.
- Great Instructional Videos -
Here's a few helpful instructional videos you or your group can watch to learn how to play this game visually.
What is the limit of gems that you can have in your hand?
You can only have a total of 10 and that includes any gold tokens
Do I turn in gems every time I buy a development card?
Once you buy development cards, those act like gems which help you acquire more development cards without spending actual gems.
How do I acquire a noble card?
The nobles will "visit" you once you have the correct colors and amount of development cards
How do I reserve a card?
You get to take one gold token and reserve any card that goes face down until you have enough to pay for it.
Can I still reserve a card when there are no more gold tokens?
Yes, you can you just miss out on acquiring a wild/gold token.
How many reserve cards can I have at one time?
You can have 3 cards reserved at one time but you can reserve more than 3 cards for the entire game.
Do I have to use the gold/joker token I used to reserve the card to build it?
No, you can use that gold token for anything as it acts like a wild gem.
What happens if the game ends and I still have some reserve cards?
There is no penalty and it's allowed
Can you buy a card and pick up gems with one turn?
No, you can only reserve a card, pick up gems, or buy a card once per turn.
Can you always collect 2 gems of one color?
No, you can only collect 2 gems of one color if there are at least 4 gems available of that color.
What happens if I have more than 10 gems at the end of my turn?
A player can never have more than 10 tokens at the end of their turn (including jokers). If this happens, they must return tokens (of their choice) until they only have 10 left.
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Highest Price: $109.98 (July 23rd, 2014)
Lowest Price: $16.96 (July 8th, 2017)
Average Price: $29.84
*According to CamelCamelCamel.com (1/26/2018)
Expanding The Game
There is currently one expansion available for Splendor called Cities of Splendor. This addition incorporates four expansions to the original game of Splendor including:
- City Tiles - Replace the Noble Tiles and one must be claimed in order to win the game
- Trading Posts - Offers unique powers to players during game play
- Orient Cards - 30 more cards with various abilities
- Stronghold Pieces - Allow you to claim specific cards
If you like how this board game plays, you'll definitely want to check out these great games which play similarly.